Over Sweating

Over sweating or excessive swearing is clinically known as hyperhidrosis. The most important sites regarding sweating are the palms, soles and armpits. Over sweating is not a serious condition but is a source of irritation and sometimes a source of embarrassment.


Over sweating or hyperhidrosis is further classified into three main types:

Primary focal hyperhidrosis: In primary or idiopathic focal hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating occurs in certain focal regions like armpits, scalp, soles and palms. There is symmetrical sweating involving both sides of body. It is also named as idiopathic as the real cause for this condition is not known. It generally affects 3% of the population and is thought to be genetic in origin causing hypersensitivity of local sweat glands. Common triggers for this type of sweating are stress, heat, spices and emotional states. However, it can also occur without any stimulus too.

Secondary focal hyperhidrosis: It involves a rarely occurring sweating problem with known causes. It is not symmetrical and involves one sides of body. The example for secondary hyperhidrosis is the sweating on one leg due to spinal injury.

Generalized hyperhidrosis: It involves sweating from all of the body parts without being localized to some focal points. Like secondary hyperhidrosis, it also occurs due to some conditions like nerve damage, heart abnormalities and some infections.


The causes for the primary type are not known yet, however secondary or generalized hyperhidrosis can occur due to:

  • Pregnancy

  • Menopause

  • Infectious diseases like tuberculosis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Stroke

  • Heart failure

  • Cancers like leukemia and lymphoma

  • Diabetes

  • Alcoholism

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Thyroid problems

  • Certain drugs like antibiotics


The patients usually know about the excessive sweating. During examination, the doctor can observe excessive sweating on palms, soles etc. During history taking the patient may be asked about location of sweating, triggering factors and any other body conditions.


Following treatment options are available to get rid of excessive sweating:

Antiperspirants: Antiperspirants containing aluminum chloride are the first line of treatment for block the ducts of sweat glands. Usual doses for aluminum chloride are 10%-20%. However, severe sweating may require higher concentration for effective treatment.

Iontophoresis: This is an electric procedure that can destroy the glands at a place. It has been approved by FDA. The body structures producing more sweat are placed in a water tub and current of certain voltage is passed through it and glands are destroyed this way.

Drugs: Anticholinergic drugs such as glycopyrrolate are used to reduce the activity of sweat glands. Beta blockers and benzodiazepines are used for stress related sweating.